Missouri Emancipation Laws

A person 18 years of age and older is considered an adult in Missouri. Those under 18, called "minors," have few legal obligations or privileges and are restricted in the medical decisions they can make for themselves. Missouri emancipation laws, such as they are, permit a minor to petition the court to be granted the rights and responsibilities of an adult. There are no formal laws outlining the process or grounds for emancipation in Missouri, but emancipation is still possible under the common law.

Without any petition for emancipation minors in Missouri may still consent to medical treatment without parental consent for medical issues relating to pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, or substance abuse. A married minor may be included in the joint ownership of real estate. There is no formal procedure for emancipation in Missouri, but there are circumstances that typically result in emancipation and there are common effects that result from emancipation.

Requirements for Emancipation

In Missouri a minor can become emancipated in one of three ways:

  1. Your parents give their express consent to the court to terminate their parental rights;
  2. Your parents give their implied consent by permitting you to live on your own, support yourself, and have already effectively given up their parental rights; or
  3. You have married or enlisted in the military.

Emancipation is typically not available to minors under the age of sixteen. As a practical matter, minors under the age of sixteen cannot seek employment and are highly unlikely to be able to support themselves, particularly since they may not support themselves with income derived from criminal activity.

Effects of Emancipation for the Minor

An emancipated minor:

  • May consent to medical care without parental consent, knowledge, or liability;
  • May enter into a binding contract;
  • May establish their own residence;
  • May buy and sell property;
  • May enroll in any secondary school or college and enter into educational loan agreements without parental consent;
  • May work more than 20 hours a week;
  • May sue their parent or legal guardian for a tort;
  • Is entitled to their own earnings, free of parental control; and
  • Is deemed over 18 for vehicle registration purposes.
Effects of Emancipation for the Parents

Parents of emancipated minors:

  • Are no longer liable for their emancipated child's acts; and
  • Are not required to provide financial support to their emancipated child.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Additional Resources for Missouri Emancipation Laws

If you have additional questions about emancipation laws in Missouri, click on the links below for more information:

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Missouri emancipation laws are confusing and there's little guidance available. Fortunately, you can contact an experienced family law lawyer in Missouri to learn more about Missouri emancipation laws and get help with the emancipation process.

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